By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published January 27, 2016
ATLANTA—Ernest Green made the news as a high school senior in 1957 as one of nine students who integrated the racially segregated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Green spent Jan. 15, the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., visiting Marist School in Atlanta.
The school’s Office of Inclusion and Diversity hosted a morning assembly with Green as speaker. He also joined students for lunch and participated in question-and-answer sessions with smaller groups in the afternoon.
The Little Rock Nine, as the group of students who integrated the school became known, didn’t start out to be symbols of desegregation.
“As a teenager I had an idea that this school I passed every day was one that if I had the opportunity to go there, I wanted to,” Green told the students.
For a teenager to dream of something and have it materialize early is what Green wishes for more youth. He spoke of his belief that all society benefits when no one group feels marginalized and encouraged students to work to include others.
Following graduation from high school, Green attended Michigan State University, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He served as assistant Secretary of Labor in President Jimmy Carter’s administration.
“Mr. Green’s story is an astounding reminder that although we have grown up in a far more accepting time, it wasn’t so long ago that blatant hatred was the norm,” said Marist student Rose Clipson. “His visit served as a good reminder that we must always strive to change the world however we can and that no one is too young to make a difference.”
Thomas Vance, Marist junior, guided Green on his visit and called him amazing.
“In the short time I led him on a school tour, I found myself eager to learn more about who he was and what he did,” said Vance. “He taught me how to be a successful ‘agent of change,’ which really stuck with me because as an advocate for change and equality, knowing how to carry out your goals is crucial.”
Following Green’s presentation and after visiting the archives of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Marist students prepared an exhibit on the integration of their own school and the archdiocesan schools in Atlanta.
The exhibit will be on display in the front office area of Marist School in February for Black History Month.
More about Ernest Green’s inspirational message is in the Jan. 21 edition of The Georgia Bulletin. Read it here.